Simon Coveney says he won’t contest next general election

The Fine Gael TD recently stepped down from this role as minister for enterprise which signalled the possibility that his political career was coming to a close

“Now is the right time for renewal in FG & for me to change direction.” Picture: Fergal Phillips

Long-standing Fine Gael politician Simon Coveney announced his decision “to seek new horizons in life outside of Dáil Eireann” on social media this morning.

Coveney recently stepped down from this role as minister for enterprise, trade and employment in April following the leadership change that saw Simon Harris ascend to Taoiseach.

He also stepped down as deputy leader of Fine Gael, a role that went to Heather Humphreys. This signalled the possibility that Coveney’s political career was coming to a close.

The 52-year-old Cork South Central TD posted a copy of the letter to members in his constituency on social media platform X and said; “Being elected for 26 yrs has been the privilege of my life. I will forever be grateful for the faith people in Cork South Central have put in me.”

“Now is the right time for renewal in FG & for me to change direction,” he added.

Mr Coveney has held five cabinet positions since being appointed as minister for agriculture in 2011. He was minister for housing between 2016 and 2017, before serving as minister for foreign affairs across two governments. He also served as minister for defence for two years, before being appointed minister for enterprise after Leo Varadkar took over as Taoiseach.

In 2017 he contested the Fine Gael leadership with Leo Varadkar and was appointed as deputy leader, a position he retained until April 2024. Coveney was also appointed as director of elections for Fine Gael’s 2024 European campaign which saw the party retain four MEPs.

Coveney was first elected to the Dáil in 1998 as one of Fine Gael’s youngest TDs, he was re-elected in 2002 and sat as an MEP from 2004 before being returned as a TD again in the 2007 general election. He was appointed to cabinet by Enda Kenny.

As minister for foreign affairs, he was at the forefront of the Irish effort to handle the fallout from Brexit, representing Ireland in negotiations between the European Union and the UK.

However, as housing minister he initiated the Rebuilding Ireland plan which became symbolic of the government’s inability to handle the housing crisis.

It is unclear what Coveney's plans will be moving forward, however, in his letter to his fellow party members he said: “I wouldn’t be leaving if I didn’t believe the future was bright.”